Thursday, 11 September 2008

Pearler of a snail

Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre has an Indian volute (Melo melo) on display. And they've had to step up security to make sure that no one runs off with it. Not because it's the only one in the UK but because the species is known to produce pearls. Occasionally. Every now and then. When it feels like it.

As News:lite puts it:
Experts say the chance of the snail actually containing a pearl are low, but the chance of a dumb Brummie thief thinking they could get their hands on a pearl producing machine is high.

I'm not sure that the experts said all of that.

It reminds me of the time that a couple of eejits broke into the Geology Department of the Museum of Victoria (when it was still on Russell Street) and stole what they thought was a genuine gold nugget that had been sitting in the window. Not just any old nugget, by the way, but the "Welcome Stranger".

They smashed the window, grabbed the loot and carried it down La Trobe Street, only abandoning their haul after they dropped it ... and it shattered. Yes, they'd nicked a gold-painted plaster model. After all, the real "Welcome Stranger" weighed ... ooh ... let's see ... 72 freakin' kilos. And that's just what someone would leave lying around in the office. If it still existed. Which it doesn't.

Homework, people. Homework.

To top it all, one of the gold plaster-thieves put his hand flat against the glass when he swung the hammer, so the cops had a lovely big palm print with every finger nicely represented.

Snail-kidnapping seems quite reasonable by comparison.

8 comments:

Dave Coulter said...

Sometimes I have to wonder that if thieves were that smart would they still be in that line of work?!

Mosura said...

LOL at both stories.

...also, pardon my ignorance, but are their many pearl producing gastropods? I had not heard of that before.

ria said...

Thanks for sharing that story!

We wish we could post a guard over our wild Melo melo, which unfortunately is harvested by people for the cooking pot.

Sigh.

Snail said...

Dave, the Museum story kept us amused for weeks. (We were pushed for entertainment.) I always wonder what would have happened if the criminal masterminds had got the 'nugget' back to their lair intact.

Mosura, to be honest, I hadn't heard of it either, apart from in abalones. But now I'm wondering if anyone's thought of doing it commercially ...

Ria, :(. Is it something that the govt could stop if they put their minds to it?

ria said...

Whenever one of us in Singapore posts a story about Melo melo being harvested on our shores, we get a lot of fierce comments about how people should be allowed to do what they want. And how Melo melo is still common and thus wrong to have it on our Red List. Sigh.

There are some rules, but enforcement is an issue. And there are other things the government is and needs to focus on (like marine litter), that I think is also important.

I think a more sustainable approach is to work on raising awareness. Once the general public realises how special our marine life is, there will hopefully be more respect for the shores.

Many of us are working relentlessly on this: blogs, guiding, public talks, publications.

Slowly, one baby step at a time.

I remain optimistic of improvement :-)

budak said...

here's how locals think of the snail:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/budak/2573844466/in/set-72157604072518326/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/budak/2573022211/in/set-72157604072518326/

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

don't they call them blister pearls, or something like that?

Snail said...


Slowly, one baby step at a time.


So many things to achieve, Ria! I wish you great success. Things do change but they always take effort.

Those market photos are simultaneously beautiful and sad. I dunno what to say.

Aydin, I'm not up on pearl terminology but I think blister pearls are the ones that are attached to the shell and are irregular in shape. It seems that these are round. Which makes me wonder why they aren't ejected. This is all very confusing.